Monday, January 31, 2011

Kookie sitting on the proverbial wire
Strewth it's hot! Apparently it's only 35 degrees (celsius) with 30% humidity, but it feels hotter than that - high 30's at least. A well-chilled beer earlier today and now a refreshing gin and tonic are definitely helping though :)
By now, I'm almost at the halfway mark of my holiday home, so not quite close enough to have to think about returning to the frigid ice-box that is Cheongju in winter, but close enough to be realising that I should be getting on to doing a whole bunch of things that I wanted to or need to do before I head back. Looking back at my bucket list, I've managed a fair bit already - at least 27 of the 40 or so things on it (you can see my to do list here if you need a refresher) and another 8 or 9 of those schedhuled in before I go. I also managed to find my absolutely delicious vanilla coke (which has become very scarce for some reason) which should have been there, and drink an enormous amount of it, some of it while watching "The Biggest Loser" and cackling, yes, CACKLING at the hapless contestants. Unsympathetic, yes, perhaps, but also because it was the premiere episode of the 2011 season, in which they made the trainers go live with the families that they'll be training and eat what they eat for a week. Watching the teeth-bleached, hair-bleached blonde barbie doll Tiffany (the name says it all don't it?) being forced to eat a huge plateful of creamy pasta (made with a jar of Alfredo sauce, a pack of sour cream, a pack of thickened cream and three types of cheese) was as ironic as it was disgusting. By the way, I have to say here, I love the Commando's no-bull attitude, especially in the face of the fact that his team are all women (much to his horror) and quite giggly and likely to drive him up the wall. I'm betting his 'surprise twist' this year (or whatever his tagline was) is that he smiles :p And of course, Michelle and Shannon are as awesomely hardcore as ever (although it looks lie Shannon had his tatts re-inked for the show), but really, I like my crazy, and The Commando is just the right amount of crazy to be awesome.

Well, shamefully crass commerical television aside, it has been BRILLIANT being at home. Here are some of my favourite pictures so far.

Pamela, Georgie and Maria (b), Mum and Fran (f).
Catching up over some yummy goodies! We are well-versed in the Georgie = delicious food equation :) 

To the right are some of Georgie's biscuits and some that the girls made. Luckily these came out after the cheesecake and the girls' cheese triangles, so there were enough left to take a decent photo of them :)

Authentic seefood! The barbequed octopus Fran and I couldn't bring ourselves to eat, as it appeared to be eye-balling us throughout dinner at a local Thai restaurant.

With Naomi at the Lunar New Year Festival in Hyde Park in Sydney. Although I don't look it, I was actually quite happy here, as at this point we hadn't yet been approached by the dodgy bogan derro trying to bum a light and calling me 'sis' so he could nick my handbag. 

Dad feeding the Eastern Rosellas on the balcony one morning.  Fran actually took this as it was at the ungodly hour of 8.30am, so I was still dead to the world.

Mum's pav - a fruit and cream topped meringue base. Mum was actually very sneaky and mixed fruche (a very creamy yoghurt) in with the cream on this one, but Grandy didn't notice (or perhaps mind) so it was all good.

Having brunch with Nadia, aka the smilingest woman on earth, and my personal favourite mood-lifter :)

Anyway, that's about it for now. I should get back to my TESOL coursework - I have 25 days left (well, less really if you consider travelling and visitors etc) to complete 48 units, but I managed to do 5 last week in less than 5 days so I think I can manage it!) if I want the pay rise next year. You'd think my study habits would be better now that I'm a teacher, but it's really not the case :p Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Woman, thy name is shoes.

Holy mackerel do I have a lot of shoes. Although I was aware of the fact before, in the way that I'm also aware of the fact that the sky is blue and a single man in possession of a high income must be in want of a wife, it really only came to my attention today as I sorted through a storage bin of my shoes trying to decide which of my many beloveds had lost their lustre and should be sent to their next life via the Smiths Family clothing recycling bins. Even though I really didn't want to throw ANY of them out, and in fact wanted to take ALL of them back with me to Korea, the fact that my tiny apartment is already stuffed full of shoes roosting in the oddest storage places (such as the storage place under my microwave unit and in bags and a suitcase out in my laundry) as well as overflowing in my doorway and that Korea is a veritable smorgasboard of shopping and beautiful shoes and thus bound to lure me into buying more forced me to be ruthless. So I made three piles - one: to be chucked, two: to be kept in storage, and three: to be taken back to Korea with me where their fate would be redecided again in a year. Of course, those piles are also in increasing order of size. For some, it was a relatively easy decision - for instance, I no longer have the fascination I once had with tie-up shoes or whatever you call shoes where you tie the laces around your ankle, so those requiring more than one once-round were gone, hopefully off to a more lasting love affair with their next wearer, probably some bogan who would truly appreciate them. Old work shoes that no longer have any grip on the sole or brought up bad memories of sweat and blisters at the mere sight of them were out straight away with good riddance. Any shoes that were so uncomfortable that I couldn't push through the pain and actually wear them for more than half an hour were evaluated by beauty and price, except for anything with bloodstains on the inside which were also immediately gone. Anything slightly pinching but wearable I added to the Korea pile, with the determination to find a better fitting equivalent during the year ahead. And so on. *sigh*

Here are some of my favourites:

My absolute favourites. I've had these for more than six years and worn them to death - literally! There are holes in the soles of both that I'm hoping some magic tailor can fix for me back in K-land since I haven't been able to find a replacement pair online.

Bought these in 2006 at Co-ex Mall. Sadly, I have to throw them out because they've gotten really dirty and numerous dry-cleaners have broken my heart by telling me that they are impossible to clean or dye another colour because of the leather/linen mix. Boohoooㅠ_ㅠ;;;

^ Definite keepers! My high-school formal shoes. Love 'em to bits! I only wish I'd had the foresight to buy a pair in every colour.

 My shiny shiny shoes from my last Valete at Fenner Hall. These babies were so sparkly that I appear to be wearing mirrorballs on my feet in every single photo.

My trashy trannie shoes! Bought these in Korea around Ewha in 2006. In the words of a male friend when I once asked if they went with an outfit:

"To be honest, I can't imagine a single thing that those would ever match. But you should wear them anyway because they're hot."

In the end, I thought I did pretty well - out of the 29 pairs of shoes in the storage bin, I ended up chucking 7 pairs, although I changed my mind repeatedly on my ratty purple fake uggs (if they were real I would have kept them) that I used to drive in during winter and practically lived in during my Honours year, and putting 11 pairs aside to bring back to Korea with me, most of which I will eventually throw away. However, I now have to go through the other 12 or so pairs in boxes in the toychest in my room, all of which I also love and will inevitably will want to bring back with me also.

Lesson of the day: this is too hard!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Yes, it is true. The eagle has landed, and Amy has come home. And good lord does it feel GRRRRRREEEEEAAAT! Although I'm used to travelling, it's always a little weird for me when I'm overseas for a long time somewhere where the climate is diametrically different to what I'm used to, especially over holiday periods like Christmas and the New Year and it's really different to my memories and habits of how I usually spend that time at home. It makes me slightly homesick and very mopey (not to say anti-snow) to look outside (having first had to defrost my window) and see frost and people wrapped up in six layers of clothing inching across icy pavements when everything is telling me that this is the time of year when people should be walking around in the blazing sunshine in summer dresses, thongs, sunnies and a tan, drinking cold beer or a refreshing gin and tonic on the verandah and listening to the crickets and cicadas chirping. So needless to say, coming home and having a sense of everything being set right again has been absolute BLISS. I haven't worn socks since I got off the plane (I immediately put my thongs on as soon as we landed) or even closed shoes, and I've been gradually crisping my feet and legs every morning by propping them up on the railing in the sunshine as I sit out on the verandah doing the crossword with my dad (who has now also become a sudoku nut but unfortunately with much the same "guess and hope and then blame the paper for making mistakes when it's wrong" technique as he used to have with crosswords).

Speaking of planes, I should mention some highlights of my flight(s) home here. The first leg of the trip from Seoul to Shanghai was pretty good, mainly thanks to my plane neighbours Brady and Jihye, also teachers, who were on their way to Singapore and then Malaysia. I was still exhausted from a busy weekend and the anticipation of coming home, but we got chatting over a beer.. and then another.. and then another.. I actually think the stewardess was getting a bit annoyed as Jihye asked for more beer for all of us, as she kept telling us to wait for the drinks cart, but she eventually gave up and gave in. So it was a pretty entertaining flight. Until we got to Shanghai. Our flight had been delayed by about half an hour, which was fine for me with my 7 hour stopover, but it meant that Brady and Jihye now only had about an hour and fifteen minutes to make their connecting flight. 75 minutes? Fine, no worries... in a normal airport. So we said goodbye and off they rushed while I proceeded at a more sedate pace. And then China confirmed my worst misgivings about going through there. Luckily, I didn't contract anything nasty (as far as I know) like I did last time, despite being surrounded by hordes of people with the usual and very charming Chinese habit of hacking, snorting, clearing your throat, coughing and sneezing with no attempt to cover up and all sorts, but that was probably due to my own paranoia rather than luck.

So first of all, the gate we'd come in was a ridiculously long way away from the rest of the terminal - fair enough, it's a big airport. After a nice 15 or 20 minute walk, I reached the "transfer lounge"... which was either non-existent or synonymous with "immigration" because we had to fill in an arrivals card and be processed and photographed before we could go through. I spotted Jihye and Brady in the line ahead of me, and wondered if they'd be rushed through as they would now have less than an hour to get to their next plane once they got through. When it was my turn and I asked where I should go, I was told "third floor" with a hand vaguely waved in a random direction, so I hopefully set off that way and then roamed around looking for a way up, finally spying a "transfers" sign over an escalator. Coming out onto the third floor, it had actually come out into arrivals, which I wandered around until I found someone to tell me where to go. Luckily I didn't have to check in again, but I DID have to fill out a departure card and go through immigration and security AGAIN. And guess who else I ran into with less than 15 minutes to make their flight? I wished them luck (again!) and set off in search of my gate, determined never to fly through China again unless I had absolutely no chance and no money to do otherwise. Waiting wasn't too eventful, although the 7 hours did give me a chance to become intimately acquainted with the swine flu information video being shown on a 15 minute loop. It was very cute and very funny - have a gander! (Unfortunately, I missed the first bit which said "Pay attention! Swine flu comes from America. It's other name is H1N1. What a shame!")

After boarding my plane and finding myself sitting across from a slack-lipped germ factory who kept sneezing and spraying gross yuk everywhere but into a tissue and coughing loudly, and thanks to the lovely H1N1 video making me even more of a hypochondriac than normal, I immediately covered my face with my scarf as a make-shift face-mask, which I wore for most of the 11 hour journey. The woman sitting next to me seemed perfectly healthy though, and as a bonus, was also fairly lightly built (this sounds prejudiced, but experienced flyers will know the discomfort of having someone three times your weight trying to squeeze past you and most likely over you to get to the toilet multiple times and be as relieved as I was that I didn't have to experience it again). We exchanged smiles and then settled down to wait for dinner. Unfortunately, the people in the row in front of us (the first row) weren't content to simply sit for the announced 15 minutes it would take to serve it. So, being hungry, they decided to have a picnic. The menu? A whole marinated roast goose, vacuum packed in foil. The four of them ripped into it with much gusto while I and the other three women sitting next to me in my row had a fit of giggles at their antics. Luckily the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful as most people crashed out right after dinner, and I didn't have the misfortune to be stuck across from someone with horrific and constant gas issues like I was coming back from America, so it was all good, and a huge relief to finally be home and step off the plane into that familiar mix of Australian summer before the terminal's air-conditioning hits you. It was pretty funny coming through customs and seeing the inevitable crowds of disappointed tourists thronged around the quarantine bins and hurriedly scarfing whatever they could because despite the many signs and warnings on the plane, they only just realised that the (probably very expensive) foodstuffs they brought with them to see them through the wilderness that is non-whatever their own country's cuisine is won't be allowed through Customs. (NB to people who've never been here before - Australia has really strict Customs and Quarantine laws because, duh, we are an island. A big one yes, but an island nonetheless, so you aren't allowed to bring seeds, dirt, shoes that have dirt in them, most animals, fresh food, food not sealed to commercial standards, wood, wood products, plants, tea, grains ... a lot of stuff. If you forget this, you may end up wasting a lot of money on food presents). Immigration was chaos - someone obviously decided that to make their own hellish day slightly less godawful, they were going to pass the bollocks around by making EVERYONE confused and pissy, so none of the signs made any sense, and the officers arbitrarily changed their minds about who could go where and which nationalities and types of passports were allowed in which lanes. But at last I got through and was home! Absolute bliss ^_^

Also, I've already managed to eat my way through a goodly number of things on my wishlist! Baked ham dinner, roast lamb with gravy and perfectly roasted potatoes, trifle (and a chocolate one at that!), nectarines (sadly, or perhaps luckily, due to the rain they are scarce, so I haven't eaten myself silly on them yet), chocolate gelato in Circular Quay with my sister, home-made muesli, smoked salmon bagels, my sister's mince pies - MANY things! And tomorrow I'm making home-made banana ice-cream for my grandad, and then next week my mum's making a pavlova for Australia Day so the gorging is good to continue. Fran thinks she's put on 2 kgs already in the three days that I've been home, and the dogs are overjoyed to have yet another person to scab from.

Ooh and also more importantly!! ...
... Okay, male readers (if any), you should probably skip this part, because I'm about to launch into a shopping story. Yes, it's about underwear, but not in any kind of alluring way - I stress, it's about underwear, NOT lingerie. So sorry in advance, but this stuff is important to women, so proceed at your own risk!

So, ALSO! Something that makes me incredibly happy - UNDERWEAR! I went shopping in Sydney yesterday with my sissy poo, and there was still plenty of stuff on sale from the Christmas/New Year's sales, so I had a field day! For those of you unaware of this fact, comfortable, well-fitting underwear is extremely hard to find in Korea, especially as most knickers are a kind of 'one size fits no-one' (for the most part, Koreans have no butts) and the only place you can reliably buy anything bigger than a B-cup is at American chain stores in Seoul, and even then they don't usually fit that well. Seriously, C-cups are usually advertised as "large sizes!", and everything has the hell padded out of it anyway, so if you are planning to go to Korea and wear underwear ladies, it is a given that you should stock up on it before you go, unless you want to spend the year with some very unflattering bulges and your bosom twice the size you want and perched right up under your chin. So anyway, Christmas money in hand from many people in a very generous family, and having gotten home to realise that contrary to my expectations, I'd actually taken ALL of my non-lingerie underwear with me to Korea and so had not one pair of practical (and comfortable) knickers left at home, I hit up Myers underwear department like there was no tomorrow. $150 later, I was much happier. And then of course, we couldn't go past the clothes floor... ^_^ I was very happy to discover that there were still lots of bargains to be had in the Princess Highway section, one of my favourite brands.

It's good to be home ^_^

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I forgot to add another valuable lesson learned yesterday: do NOT under any circumstances use Calvin and Hobbes cartoons with adult learners. Kids, absolutely fine and dandy - a cartoon about a fictional boy talking to a fictional tiger that is also his make-believe friend, or fighting an imaginary bubble bath monster - no problem! Teachers, not so much. I was using the same cartoons to do the rearrange and phone activity as I used with my 2nd year conversation class during the semester, which the kids loved and found really interesting. But apparently grown adults find it hard to comprehend the deep and complicated nature of Calvin and Hobbes.

This is what the conversation sounded like more or less (about the one where Calvin wants to water-bomb Hobbes)
Me: Ok, so you have to look at the pictures in each panel and move them into the right order, then call me on the number written on the back. You can check with each other to make sure you have the same phone number, but you should check to make sure your stories also make sense, because some panels look very similar. They are all about a boy who likes to pretend things, so he imagines some very interesting stories. Ok?
Teachers: OK.
*after a busy 20 minutes*
Ms Park: This cartoon does not make sense. There is no right order.
Me: Why do you say that?
Ms Chae: Because tigers do not talk.
Me: Er.. what?
Ms Park: Tigers do not talk. And here the tiger is talking to boy who wants to make joke to him.
Me: ...right. It's not real. The boy likes to imagine things, and one of the things he imagines is that the tiger is real, but really he's just a toy.
Ms Park: Then why does the tiger not eat the boy?
Me: Well, you'll notice that the tiger is also sleeping with it's knees crossed and it's fingers together, which isn't exactly normal for a tiger either. The tiger is not real.
Ms Chae: So.. the boy is imagining that the tiger is sleeping? Why?
Me: The tiger is not important! Just pretend it's a person, like his friend or his dad or his mum, that he wants to play a practical joke on.
Ms Chae: Ok. What is the meaning of tiger's words?
Me: It says "As if life isn't short enough." It just means, life is short. If you throw that, I'll kill you, so your life will be shorter.
Ms Chae: Life is short? What does that mean?
Me: It means exactly what it says. "Life is short" means "life is short". Like I said, he means, if you do that, I'll hurt you. Or "life is short, don't waste it doing something stupid"
Ms Park: But.. what does life is short mean?
Me: Ok, let's ignore it! It's not important. It's just a threat, saying if you do that, I'll hurt you. So don't.
Ms Park: So the boy imagined the tiger sleeping, then imagined that the tiger said that to him?
Me: Well... yes... but it's not important that it's the tiger. It could be anyone! It's just the tiger here because the tiger is his friend.
Ms Chae: Why did boy imagine tiger say that if he is friend?
Me: It's a joke! Let's just look at the story - don't worry about who the people are!
Ms Park: The cartoon does not make sense. Why does boy imagine tiger saying this if he wants to throw the water balloon?

......This went on for a good hour. I'm not a patient person at best, so I feel that the fact that I patiently tried to explain the cartoons for that long and only covered my face with my hands in a gesture of total despair once deserves some sort of reward, which is why I splurged and ignored my lactose intolerance for a 'Real Belgian Hot Chocolate' from Holly's Coffee that Henry introduced me to last night and completely rocked my world. Although apparently Ms Park, who I would guess is in her early 50's, likes dance music, because she chose Sneaky Sound System's "UFO" for their song to study. So yeah, less Calvin and Hobbes and more Sneaky. Must remember.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Only two more days to go...

Two more days of class that is, and then only three more of non-class (which I shall enjoy significantly more!) and then I'm home! Glorious, glorious home!

So this has been a bit of a sucky week, for all sorts of little reasons, but not really any big ones, and with many little happy moments to keep me uplifted and to stop it from being a REALLY sucky week.

One of these such moments was samgyetang (삼계탕, a sort of spring chicken soup where you get a whole little chicken thing in a stone hot pot stuffed with rice and cooked in a delicious soup), photo stickers and a strawberry ice-cream sundae at Love Story (a cafe) with Lara. The food was delicious of course (the samgyetang restaurant we go to ALL the time is awesome) although it was weird to get cherry tomatoes as part of the fruit in our sundae and cornflakes too, and taking sticker photos with lots and lots of glitter was an excellent way to burn off some energy between courses. Here is one of the results! Sorry for the awful webcam quality - still without a real camera. Looking at some of the features on cameras I am considering buying, I figured out that it might have actually frozen on the day of our teachers' trip since apparently "freeze-resistance" is something that Korean camera makers consider important.

Another thing that made me happy this week was newspaper that my second year kids made during our winter camp. We did activities for articles for it each day, like making up their own country (which the girls promptly decided to name after their favourite drama "Dream High"), and telling each other's fortunes, and then they had to write another 'newspapery' piece as well, so I gave them 20 minutes at the end of each two hour class to work on what they had. I'm not going to sugar-coat it, my kids aren't the most brilliant in Korea, and it wasn't anything that's going to rock the world, but I was really proud of how well they did, and how they all helped each other out to get everything done on time, and in the end I really didn't have that much editing to do to put it all together. My co-teacher Paige took some photos so everyone was in it or contributed at least two or three things, even if it was just a few sentences. So it was great, and I was really happy, and they've seemed pretty impressed with it themselves as they've picked up their copies this week.

However, I then did something really stupid - I gave our Vice-Principal and Principal each a copy, because I thought they might like to see what the kids had been doing (even though most of the kids undoubtedly have better English and the VP and P probably couldn't even read the whole thing without a dictionary). First came the VP, who grunted non-committedly and immediately pointed out that we were infringing copyright by using a picture of Kim Yuna and a movie poster. Fair enough. Then the Principal. Before he even opened it, out came the red pen, and he started nagging my co-teacher about how it didn't look professional enough because the margins were wrong (I'd basically just printed everything out back to back and then stapled it down one side). Next, flicking through it, he complained that I should have written the date on it and I hadn't put in page numbers - ok, fair enough too, shame on me for not taking a four day project seriously enough. Then came the kicker - he told us to fix it up because he wanted to distribute as a school product to show off our English program. BIG WTF moment. Never mind that half of it is something that will ONLY make sense to the people who actually went to the class, since half the articles are about an imaginary country. Oh and he complained that the puzzle page that Dae-Ho had done was too hard to do because it was too small.

Pain. In. The. Butt.

So anyway, I escaped at that point because I had a class to go to, but my poor co-teacher had to stay and listen. Actually, I guess it's karmic irony really, because earlier in the year the VP had told me that he expected me to write an English newspaper for the school and waved one from another school (that he had clearly not read himself) in my face that had turned out to not actually be written by a teacher, but by the students of a very prestigious girl's high school with a rigourous English language program, which I had docilely agreed to and then forgotten as quickly as possible, as it was a ridiculous demand and I already had been volunteered into running the Super Duper English club every week. But still. So I did a bit more editing, and sent it off to Paige, but I have no idea what she can do about the puzzle (which we don't even have an electronic copy of) so I guess she's got a busy few days ahead of her until she leaves (very thankfully I'm sure!) on her much-needed holiday.

My new 'visa'
Oh and yes, this was right after the lovely day I had on Tuesday, which constituted of my VP calling me a bitch (I think he meant to say "busy"), walking out on my flabberghasted face when I didn't respond, then telling me ten minutes later that he expects me to tutor him one on one once the new semester starts which I flatly told him he would then have to either pay me extra or take it out of my teaching hours because that's not my job. Oh and then I ended up having to cancel my afternoon class (which on the upside at least meant I got to the gym) because I spent my whole lunch break waiting at the Office of Immigration for two hours and fifteen minutes to get my visa extended. Which turned out to constitute writing on the back of my ARC (alien rego card) with a texta and covering it with sellotape. Yes, sellotape. Thankyou for justifying the 30 000 won and more than three hours getting to and waiting in your ridiculous office.

Anyway, basically, I have now learned to keep things to myself, and after a really pointless day yesterday, the silliness of sticker photos and good food with a good friend was much appreciated ^_^ Thankyou Lala chingu~~~!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another GREAT day in snowy Korea!

Yep, it's great. GRRRREEEAAAAT. In the completely sarcastic non-great kind of way. First of all, there were no parents in my parents class today, so my Vice Principal got irritated and although he quite likes me and so didn't segue into the full-blown angry yelling boss, he was still being an arse about it. Apparently my co-teacher Paige (who doesn't even come to the classes with me because she has her own at the same time) should be calling all of the parents every day to make sure they come and basically harassing them into attending, because their own busy schedhules are not sufficient excuse enough to miss a class most of them don't want to come to anyway. Why we can't just cancel them entirely and run something more worthwhile I don't know - say like an extra conversation class, perhaps for the 3rd years that I don't teach and so don't see all year anyway, some of whom would probably be interested in taking it before they go to high school next year and the hardwork really starts. I tried suggesting that to him but I don't think he was listening, because he just looked at me, nodded vaguely, and then answered an incoming call on his mobile. This also means grief for Paige, because he's sure to nag her about it.

So anyway, that part of the day sucks. The other part that sucks, or perhaps makes the sucky things more sucky, is that I currently have no cold water in my apartment. Although I'm very grateful that it's the cold water that's out and not the hot, it's still a pain in the butt, especially because I came home to discover this last night after I'd already used my toilet, only to find that it wouldn't flush because there was no water in the cistern. Don't worry - it was only a number one, but it was still annoying that I had to fill up the cistern by hand with a bucket to flush my loo, and because I didn't get home until about 2am, it was too late to call my neighbour to call our landlord to see if it could be fixed. Luckily he came by today so he now knows about the problem and is hopefully getting it fixed. I guess I'm just going to have to use the nasty toilet in the lobby of my building for a while until then. Apparently it's only our floor though so at least there'll only be the five of us (or possibly six since I'm still convinced my weird neighbour with the weird OCD light switch flicking habit has his girlfriend living with him) queueing in the lobby. It's kind of weird though - even though the cold water is out, my tap keeps dripping if I leave it in the off position over cold, and occasionally streaming water late at night, so I've taken to tying a dishcloth around it in a kind of washerwoman's bandanna to soak up the water and stop the noise. Ever wondered what a faucet with a toothache looks like? I'd like to imagine it looks something like mine does right now.

There are also another couple of reasons why I'm so irritated today but there's enough negativity here so I'll leave it as is and instead move onto my eternal fountain of entertainment - my students. We've been making a newspaper in our conversation class this week, and yesterday we did fortune telling and paper chatterboxes (with some stupid answers - explaining why "your mama" is funny to a bunch of Korean teenagers was hard but totally worth it), so I asked them to write predictions for each other. Here are some of the results (I tidied them up a little):

Ji-Soo will be taller than me - Yes
Sunny’s teeth will be healthy this year. -For sure
Soyeong will have a boyfriend -your mama!
Hyeon-Jeong will eat mushrooms - No way!
Won-Min will meet a handsome boyfriend - you smell!
Amy teacher will maybe go back to Australia. But Amy should stay in Korea because Korea is super good than Australia.

And my favourite (and the best) by Dae-Ho.
Paige Teacher's luck this year:

She will meet a good boyfriend in Europe this year. Paige and her boyfriend will fall in love very quickly so Paige will want to only date for 5 years and then get married, because she doesn’t have any money. However her boyfriend will have lots of money. So they will get married in Europe. They won’t want to have children. However they will travel to very beautiful sites and will live happily ever after.

Oh and a picture of the costumes they made for each other when they had to invent a country and come up with some public holidays, traditions, a flag and clothes.

Sunny and Dae-Ho

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Still cold...

Still freezing actually. Why is my school such a frigid icy wind tunnel??? It snowed again yesterday, probably just for Lara. On the upside, two weeks from today I'll be hopefully getting my sunburn on ^_^

Incidentally, "Sunburn" is one of my favourite Muse songs. Just thought I'd let you know that useless fact :)

Had the second parents class today, with a grand total of two. Actually, it was a grand total of one parent, Yu-Mi, as the other one was her daughter that she'd clearly dragged along, but at least we had more fun without the grumpy ones and the daughter, Hee-Jin, who is a high-school student, also has good enough English to be able to help her mum out. Played plural noun Go Fish and Yu-Mi won both times!

Random student quote for the day from yesterday when I was asking the students to introduce themselves (forgot to add it to yesterday's entry) by telling everyone their name, their English name and something interesting about themselves or something no-one else knows/a secret:

"Hello, my name is Dae-Ho. I have no secrets. Sorry."
"My Korean name is Hyeon-Jeong. My English name is ... Hyeon-Jeong."
"Hello, my name is Byeon So-Yeong. My nickname is Byeon-So. This means 'toilet'."

haha, precious ^^

15 days to home!

Two weeks from tomorrow and I'll be stepping off the plane, hugging my family, and hopefully stepping out into some lovely 35 degree weather and baking Sydney sunshine.

So I had my first winter classes today. I was slightly disappointed that my parents class didn't in fact turn out to be any of the parents from last semester like I'd thought, and also appear to be lower level and expect me to teach them English in Korean, despite knowing that the class was going to be taught by the foreign teacher, without making any effort themselves. Apparently my Vice Principal was also disappointed that only 3 mums showed - one of whom didn't actually sign up for it and apparently got press-ganged into it by him - and got angry at my co-teacher to be, so I might have to fudge the numbers from now on. Mind you, I'm also not very happy with her because she tried to palm a copy of Watchtower off on me as a 'mostly science' and deny that it had anything to do with religion, but I guess she'd get flak from whatever you call groups of Jehovah's Witnesses (.... no I'm not going to make a bad joke here because she's mostly very nice) if she didn't at least try.

After lunch, I had my students class, which went a bit better and turned out to be mostly composed of students from my recent 2nd year conversation class. I did feel bad for one student though, Dae-Ho (or 'Paul'), because there were only two boys signed up for the class and I knew the other, Il-Hyeong, wasn't going to show because he had only signed up due to heavy badgering from his mum. Frankly I wasn't too bothered about Il-Hyeong, as he's very disruptive, has no English, spends every class drawing pictures of guns and shooting people, and told me he wanted to be a Nazi when he grows up last time I talked to him. It's a good thing that his eyesight is so bad that he'll probably be exempt from his military service, although he'll probably be very disappointed. But anyway, his no-show left Dae-Ho all alone as the only boy, and even though Dae-Ho is by far and away one of the top students in his grade, if not the school, and is usually pretty confident and competitive, being the only boy with six girls and two female teachers was probably pretty nerve-wracking so he was unusually quiet. Since it was the first lesson, and Paige hadn't told me which girls were going to be in the class yet, I thought I'd let them play a game to also test their English capabilities. So I let them play my version of International Monopoly, in which all the streets are different countries arranged by continent, the railways are airports, and instead of community chest and chance, there are English Challenge and World (Knowledge) Challenge cards, such as "Give me a different adjective for every letter of your name" and "Name the capital city of every country that you own". It was pretty fun, and the girls that kept winning all the money, Seon-Yeong and Ah-Young (also known as 'Sunny' and 'Jamie'), got really excited. So much so in fact that they didn't notice me stealing their money (I was the World Bank) ㅋㅋㅋㅋ~

Don't worry, they had so much it didn't matter anyway, and I did eventually tell them and give it back. I'm not that bad a teacher!

After school, I headed to that Mecca of groceries, Homeplus Express, and picked up some goodies for dinner with Lara, my finally returned neighbour and much missed Yongam-dong buddy! (She had been to Thailand for five days.) We had jjajangbap (짜장밥), black bean saucy rice and champagne, then turkish delight and Christmas cake (thanks mum/Fran!) and watched 'First Wives Club'. And now I'm blogging instead of re-writing all my lesson plans for the parents' class and remaking my Powerpoint on plural nouns with Korean explanations. Awesome evening ^_^

Hehe, so my funny for the day is Lara's blog entry. Remember my earlier allusion to her faceful of snowball? Hehe, guilty as charged ^_^ Oh and also, I learned how to walk on ice properly today - not something you take to naturally after growing up in Oz. What you do is walk like you're ice-skating, so you push with your toes and slide a little, but you slide to fall over forwards and only gradually, instead of walking normally by stepping heel first, which results in falling backwards and suddenly with flailing arms and an aching backside.

Oh and some more random information thrown in, here's my recipe for jjajangbap for about 2 people which of course could also be jjajangmyeon if you want to eat it with noodles instead.

About 100g of fatty pork, such as samgyopsal pork or belly pork.
Jjajang sauce - I used about 1/2 a packet of Ottugi Jjajang (오뚜기 짜장) which is a dried powder.
Whatever vegetables you want, cut into small cubes of about 1cm. These should at least include 1/2 an onion, about 1/4 of a Korean radish (mu/무) and half a zucchini. You could also try adding carrot, broccoli, some peas, etc.
About 1/2 tbsp of minced garlic
About 300mls of water.
Oil (use something that doesn't burn easily like soybean or canola).
Rice/Wheat noodles
Yellow Korean pickle as a side (danmuji/단무지 or 단무치, I can't remember how it's spelt)

1. Put your rice/noodles on to cook. Dish goes best with plain medium grain white/brown rice if eating with rice.
2. Cut up your vegetables. You may want to microwave the radish a little after you've cubed it (say for about 4 - 5 minutes in water) or it will take a little longer to cook.
3. Cut up your pork into small strips, about 2cms in length. I cut off most of the really chunky fat, but you shouldn't cut too much off because this is a Chinese-Korean dish so it's meant to be a little oily.
4. Heat about 2 tbsps of oil in a frying pan. When it gets hot, throw in your pork and cook until browned and a little crispy.
5. Add your onions and cook until soft, then add the garlic.
6. Add the rest of your vegetables and stir. When everything starts to sizzle again, add your water. Allow to boil.
7. Depending on how thick you want your sauce and how much bite you want your vegetables to have, you can either add your jjajang now, or let everything simmer for a few minutes first. When you add the sauce, keep stirring it slowly until it has thickened evenly. If you want a strong flavour, add another couple of spoons of jjajang powder.
8. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for at least 10 minutes.
9. Serve over your rice/noodles, mix in energetically and dig in! Eat with the danmuji.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray for a Happy 2011!

So not feeling the blogness much today, but I thought I'd pop in a quick New Year's resolutions entry so that I have them written down somewhere. Happy new year to y'all by the way! Hope you've all gotten off to a good start, and have eaten some yummy ddokguk (떡국 or rice-cake soup) if you're in Korea/are Korean.

Ok, so, resolutions. Not many and hopefully all achieveable - keeping it simple is hopefully the key to actually keeping the resolutions.
1. Less procrastination. Decision making and work-doing both!
2. Finish my TESOL coursework before my new contract period starts on February 25th.
3. Go to the gym more often - Chanel and I decided that twice a week is too few, so I'm going for at least ten times a month.
4. Hmm should probably add "ignore nosey old buggers asking too many personal questions" here too. That or switch to a different gym with a less annoying ajosshi owner : p
5.  Be more patient. Accept that some things take time, and other times that decisions shouldn't be made on impulse. I have to add here, my policy still stands on repeating myself with people who have no excuse like language or genuine hearing problems - if I have to repeat something more than three times, too bad. If you didn't get it the first time, ok, maybe you didn't hear, second time, maybe it was hard to understand, more than three times, you obviously weren't paying attention which is either just plain rude or lazy. So too bad - if you want to hear it again, you're gonna have to make it worth my while and ask nicely! To a lesser degree, this applies to all of my students too - if they want me to say something again, they at least have to say 'please' and 'thankyou'. Yelling out 'one more time!' doesn't cut the mustard with Amy Teacher! Which leads me to number 6:
6. Teach all of my students the basics - "Hello", "Goodbye!", "thankyou", "no thankyou", "Please", "yes please" and whatever random idiom I decide to throw in :) (This year, for first years it was "awesome!" and "you beauty!", and for the second years it was "too bad!" and "hooroo!"... hahahahaha ㅋㅋ)
7.Stop doing favours for people who don't appreciate it. I like helping people out, and I don't expect something material for every little thing, but if you can't manage to even say 'thankyou' when someone helps you out, you need to go back to school 'cos your parents obviously didn't bring you up properly.
8. Don't waste time and effort on people who aren't worth it. This may be the wrong resolution to have if you're teaching English in a Korean public school as a native English speaker (a job that could be done by the English robots they have these days or a talking parrot), but outside of work, this has been a good resolution to have for the last couple of years so I am sticking to it.
9. Eat less sugar and try to actually stick to as low a GI diet as is possible in Korea.
10. Travel somewhere new. I'm holding out for Vietnam next winter holidays with Chanel and anyone else who's up for it!

With Chanel and Ji at Ho Bar #1 in Hongdae
Hope you all had a good NYE too by the way. I had a good evening shopping in Myeongdong (well, going around with Chanel while she went crazy over the sales at Forever 21 and H&M), then dinner, then drinks over the NYE countdown with Chanel and Ji amongst various gay couples having a romantic evening at Bricx (by the way, their Lycheebug Limonade cocktail is DISGUSTING! tastes like soju made in a sweaty boot. Seriously, it was so strong that any sugar in it vaporised), and some more drinks with other Cheongju-ites who had also flocked to Seoul, and then dancing at one of the weirdest and awfully constructed clubs in Hongdae, 'Oi'. Seriously, if there is no ventilation, everything smells of nicotine grossness, and the smoke machine is pouring out chemical fog onto the dance floor, why would you decide to add to it and smoke when you could just inhale deeply and get your hit there? Gross. But it was a fun night anyway and I got to see Addie briefly, one of my classmates from my Ewha exchange in '06!

But anyway, it was a good night, if long. We ended up giving up on the taxi scrum and getting the first subway ride back to the bus station and hopping the 6.20am bus back to Cheongju, so I then ended up passing out on my deliciously warm floor when I got home. After a much needed shower to get rid of the stink of smoke in my hair (and washing all my pillowcases and clothes and Febreezing the hell out of my jacket), I was just in time for dinner with Super Onni. She is an awesome cook! Her ddokguk was scrumptious ^_^ Sadly, the panforte I took over was not so successful (sadly because I doubt they'll actually eat much of it before they throw it out, so it was a bit of a waste of something really yummy) because Koreans don't really seem to like dried fruit very much, but it was a nice relaxing dinner anyway.

By the way, thanks for the photos I mercilessly stole Chanel :) hehe~

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! All the best for the year ahead :)